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When is the London Marathon 2021? Date, start times, route map, virtual race guide and list of elite runners

The i 10/3/2021 Evan Bartlett

Thousands of runners are preparing to pound the streets of the capital as the 2021 London Marathon finally gets underway.

The annual event took place in very unusual circumstances last year with elite runners forced to run in a 26.2 mile biosecure circuit around St James’ Park.

There was no mass-start fun run last year with thousands of participants completing a virtual marathon from home instead.

Forty years on from its inuagural race, the event returns to the tarmac this year albeit not in its usual April slot and with some extra coronavirus measures in place.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 London Marathon:

When is the 2021 London Marathon?

The 2021 London Marathon takes place on Sunday 3 October. It is the second year the event is being held in the autumn, with organisers confirming an October start date next year.

The London Marathon is expected to return to its traditional April slot in 2023.

What are the 2021 London Marathon start times?

  • 12am: Virtual Virgin Money London Marathon (participants must complete the 26.2 miles by 11.59pm)
  • 8.30am: Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon
  • 8.50am: Elite wheelchairs
  • 9am: Elite women 
  • 9.30am: Elite men and mass start

London Marathon 2021 route map

After its central London setting last year, the event returns to its traditional starting point in Blackheath. Heading east towards Charlton and Woolwich, the route then turns west along the Thames, past the iconic Cutty Sark in Greenwich towards the Shard near London Bridge.

The Marathon crosses the river at historic Tower Bridge before turning east again through the docklands and the Isle of Dogs before going past Canary Wharf, and then heading west through central London, down the Embankment and finishing up on the Mall.

The route map for the 2021 London Marathon (Photo: © Provided by The i The route map for the 2021 London Marathon (Photo:

View a detailed London Marathon route map on the official website here.

How to watch the London Marathon

  • BBC Two 8am-10am: Live coverage
  • BBC One 10am-2.30pm: Live coverage
  • BBC Red Button/iPlayer 2.30pm-4pm: Live coverage
  • BBC Two 6pm-7pm: Highlights

Which elite runners are taking part?

Shura Kitata won a memorable London Marathon last year (Photo: Getty) © Provided by The i Shura Kitata won a memorable London Marathon last year (Photo: Getty)

Brigid Kosgei and Shura Kitata will be back on the roads of London in 2021 hoping to defend the women’s and men’s titles they won last year.

Kosgei, the women’s world record holder from Kenya, is aiming to win a third consecutive title in London to accompany two Chicago Marathon victories as well as the Olympic silver medal she won this summer in Tokyo. Her main rivals will be compatriot Joycline Jepkosgei, who ran as a pacemaker at the 2019 London Marathon, and Ethiopia’s Birhane Dibaba, who has won the Tokyo Marathon three times. Roza Dereje, another star from Ethiopia, and Israel’s Lonah Salpeter will also fancy their chances. You can view the full women’s start list here.

Kitata won a memorable race last year to end Eliud Kipchoge’s dominance of the race. The Ethiopian is described as “one of the most consistent marathon runners on the circuit” having also finished second and fourth in London in previous years. He faces competition from compratiot Birhanu Legese, the third fastest male marathon runner in history, and Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba, who finished a narrow second last year. Kitata could also be challenged by Titus Ekiru, who set the world’s fastest marathon time of the year in Milan. You can view the full men’s start list here.

Nikita den Boer from the Netherlands is out to defend her women’s wheelchair title but will face stiff competition from runner-up Manuela Schär from Switzerland. You can view the full women’s wheelchair start list here.

In the men’s wheelchair race, Marcel Hug will be hoping to add victory in London to the Olympic gold medal he won in Tokyo. Britain’s David Weir, who has won this race eight times, is taking part in his 22nd consecutive London Marathon. You can view the full men’s wheelchair start list here.

Are there any road closures?

There will be a number of road closures and parking restrictions along the route from Friday 1 to Monday 4 October and disruption to the public transport network across London.

Visit the dedicated road closures page on the London Marathon website for a full breakdown.

Is there a virtual London Marathon this year?

There are expected to be 40,000 people running through the streets of London on Sunday and many more will be taking part once again from home.

As with last year’s event, the London Marathon is holding a virtual race in 2021 where participants are encouraged to plot their own 26.2 mile route.

Runners must complete their route between 12am and 11.59pm on Sunday 3 October and track the run through the official London Marathon app. For more information visit the London Marathon website.

How to apply for the 2022 London Marathon

The London Marathon is set to continue in its autumnal slot in 2022, with organisers confirming it will take place on Sunday 2 October.

This will be the third consecutive year it has taken place in October rather than its traditional April date, although it is scheduled to return to the spring in 2023.

London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher said: “We believe that by moving the 2022 event to October we give ourselves the best chances of welcoming the world to the streets of London, enabling tens of millions to be raised for good causes and giving people the certainty that their hard work and training will allow them to experience the amazing crowds cheering them every step of the way from Greenwich to Westminster.”

More information on the 2022 ballot will be available on the London Marathon website later in the year. You can view a list of charities will places available here.


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